But religious groups must still adhere to the law. Again, just saying you have a religious belief can't be enough. It would potentially allow groups to violate laws without recourse and claim immunity because of religious freedom, and that is just insane. Are you saying if I gathered a group together who said they all believed in sacrificing children to our pagan gods, would you say the government shouldn't be able to say no? It's not that I disagree with being able to practice your religion, but it has to stay within the laws that everyone must follow. And for the record, the government does grant some some immunity to the laws for long-standing religious groups so they can protect their most central values. Jews cannot be charged interest on loans, Native Americans can purchase peyote (a usually illegal hallucinogen) for religious ceremonies, and so on.
Correct, to a point. Some communities do not have to follow every established law, as you pointed out. What you said previously was "That passage does not mean the government cannot interfere with churches or religious groups." The government 'interfering' with religious groups and ideas is a terrifying prospect. If a group believes that human sacrifice is okay, one must allow them to think that way! That doesn't mean the act itself should be legal, but when you start to outlaw -beliefs- (the first amendment was inherently designed to protect beliefs), you cross into dangerous territory. Combine this with IBM's assertion that within the decade they will have thought-reading devices, and you have reached the threshold of some very dark times in the history of freedom.
You seem to suggest that I want the government to be able to destroy the foundations of the church or other religious groups for no reason...not at all the case. They just need to play by the same rules as everyone else, and for the most part this is never an issue. In the case of the child molesting issues...yes I see your point that it was individuals. But the organization itself promoted the cover up process and the church both covered up and tried to claim immunity for the molesters in question based on their faith. If you say that they should be allowed to let walk because they are Christians, then that's some messed up system you're interpretation of the constitution is creating.
Child-molestation is not a tenant of the Catholic Church. You would be hard-pressed to find punishing people for child molestation to violate the First Amendment. However, since this post is about 'gay rights':
We can all agree that molesting children is bad and people who do it should be punished. We all probably agree similarly on murder, rape, theft, arson, etc. But what happens when laws are established that -do- violate religious principles. The Constitution errs on the side of freedom historically. If a law is established saying people can marry regardless of gender combination, that would force Christians to acknowledge the marriage (which would be a violation of their beliefs). It may, in cases where it can be combined with so-called 'hate crime' legislation, force Christian ministers to perform the marriage ceremonies lest the risk jail time or sensitivity training. Should Christians, in this case, be forced to 'play by the same rules as everyone else'? Where do you define the line between the power the government has over religious communities and the freedom of those within those communities.
Well, according to the laws currently in place, you are wrong that Christianity has some sort of precedence over all other religions in this country. I agree, the general principles our country was founded on are based on the Christian Bible. But that being said, it is very clear that the government cannot enforce the will of Christians on everyone else just because they live in the majority. Freedom to practice religion also means the laws should not force non-Christians to adhere to the Christian faith, which seems to be the new trend among conservative republicans. You can practice whatever religion you want, as long as you don't try to make everyone else do the same.
Christianity does not force adherence. Catholicism in the medieval world did (something to be blamed on the Roman religious-system ancestry, no doubt). Islam does. Militant atheists desire it, too. Hinduism requires Caste systems in place. Etc.
Christianity, unlike many, many other religions in the world, FORCES its followers (when they follow it accurately), to let people make their own decisions. This Christian principle is where the First Amendment comes from! Our laws are inherently Christianized because it requires Christian principles to allow religious freedom. Many modern atheists want to ban religion because they feel it is worse than criminal behavior. A recent atheist (pardon me for not remembering who) said something like "If I could rid the planet of rape or religion, I would choose religion". This is entirely in opposition to the Constitution.
The Founders, from Jefferson (who was critical of the Bible in places, for sure), to Washington (who was not so much), to Williams (a Christian zealot), required the teachings of Christ in forming a coherent system.
You're right- some people tend to want to force Christianity itself on people. This is wrong and it is a violation of the First Amendment (just as the militant atheist desires are violations). But most Christians, you'll find, understand that it is God's job in convicting the lost. It is only our job to defend our faith when people finally are convicted to ask and to preach to those who are willing to listen (sometimes who aren't). Never is any of this to be done with force. But our laws on religions freedom are inherently Christian. Your viewpoint on it, in fact, is distinctively Christian! Even the Romans, who allowed people to keep their gods upon being conquered, would force other god's on their conquests. But in America, there has never been force, because our system specifically defends the freedom of conscience, and the freedom of conscience is a Christian concept. This idea was revolutionary for a government, but ancient for the Christians of the time.
Sorry if you don't like the idea of Christianity having such a profound role in our government, but I hope you can come to appreciate it instead. That doesn't mean it allows people to be forced into a belief, but it does mean that had our nation been founded without Christianity's influence, we likely would not live in such a free society today.